Category - Thunder News

Thunder remain only NBA team to not announce something for game day employees

UPDATE: The Thunder have since made a statement how they would take care of their part-time employees and the ASM Global game day staff

Oklahoma City is often on the forefront of taking care of their own. They preach family and loyalty. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thunder have remained silent, despite being at the epicenter of the NBA’s suspending the season.

The Timberwolves announced on Wednesday they were paying workers for games missed, leaving the rest of the fans to wonder what Oklahoma City is doing. At least the Utah Jazz, who are only paying some of the workers (and not with the money Rudy Gobert donated for them). Some will not be paid. However, it’s still more than what the Thunder are currently doing.

There is this increased thought of: “Well, the Thunder are private in their talks.”

The Thunder are only silent when it comes to player movements. When it comes to touting their philanthropic achievements, they are one of the tops in the league. Yet, they remain silent.

It’s not just the silence that is unbearable. It’s the communication between game day staff and the organization that is most pressing. When asked how the organization is going to help as most work two jobs and depend on the money, one unnamed source due to fear of repercussions from the team said: “They said there was nothing they could do.”

There is a misconception about the $100,000 donated by Gobert. It is intended for coronoavirus-related social services, not to pay the arena employees.

From the Thunder drummers to your usher that helps you find your seat and is that first real smiling face you see, many work two jobs. They may be a senior citizen and this is their only means of income. The suspension of the NBA has hurt more than just the fans, it’s hurt the employees. As a different source told me, “I have a full-time job but what about those who bartend or wait tables? That’s gone now, too.”

Currently, arena employees have missed four dates. Thunder game day staff has missed three dates.

“It’s not a lot of money working games,” said one source. “People still count on that to pay their bills and to put food on the table.”

The silence is deafening when talking to those within SMG. The Thunder have not made any real comments to those at SMG about supplementing the pay. There are multiple factors that do go into all of this. You have your payroll tax. Do you pay it twice when the games are eventually made up? Do you just wait to see? For all of his faults, Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban sees no issue with paying people twice.

“There’s issues of payroll taxes. Do you pay the payroll taxes if they don’t work?” Cuban said. “There’s issues of, ‘What happens if the games are actually played in the future? Do we pay them twice?’ I personally don’t care. That’s fine.”

The players have remained quiet, too. Gone are the days where we’ve seen Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook donate their own funds to help those in need. This overturned roster hasn’t stepped up to the plate. Though, only a handful of players have. It should fall on the owners of these multi-million dollar franchises and according to Forbes, are valued at $1.5 billion in Feb. 2020. It should be noted the Thunder lost $23 million last season, as the only team in the NBA to lose money last season.

While the Thunder remain quiet on the front, the concern rages. Why haven’t this organization that preaches family and loyalty stepped up to say something. There are many who feel left out by the team with something they cannot control.

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Westbrook and George have successful surgeries

The Oklahoma City Thunder have announced Russell Westbrook and Paul George have undergone a couple of surgeries each.

Westbrook, the 2016-17 NBA Most Valuable Player underwent successful surgery to repair his fourth MCP ligament on his left hand. He also underwent an arthroscopic knee surgery as he has the last few seasons. He’s expected to be back in action in approximately three weeks.

For George, we’ve known his shoulder has been bothering him. He underwent successful elective surgery on his right shoulder. It repaired a partial thickness in his supraspinatus tendon tear. In another words, a tear in his rotator cuff. He will also repair a tear in his labrum in his left shoulder. He’s expected to be ready by the regular season.

These surgeries aren’t surprising. The extent of the injuries are though. Multiple tears for George and a torn ligament for Westbrook. We knew they were hurt but were unaware of how bad. It’s a testament for the personal sacrifice for both players to play through these injuries.

Westbrook continued to make NBA history this season, averaging a triple-double for the third consecutive year (22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 10.7 assists), making him the first player in NBA history to accomplish the feat. This season Westbrook led the league in assists for the second-straight season, making him the first player to ever lead the league in scoring twice (2015, 2017) and assists twice (2018, 2019).

George averaged career highs in points (28.0, 2nd in NBA), rebounds (8.2), assists (4.1) and steals (2.21, 1st in NBA). The only other player to average as many points, rebounds and steals in a season since steals became an official stat was Michael Jordan in 1988-89.

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Russell Westbrook becomes franchise scoring leader

Russell Westbrook found the bucket quickly in the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans but what was most important by the bucket was where it placed him on the franchise’s all-time scoring list.

Russell Westbrook passed Gary Payton for No. 1 all-time on the Thunder/Sonics scoring list.

Westbrook now has 18,208 points. Payton finished his Seattle career with 18,207 points. It took Payton 13 seasons to do it. Westbrook did it in 11 seasons.

In terms of Oklahoma City, Westbrook bypassed Kevin Durant earlier this season.

Westbrook is atop or near the top of many Thunder/Sonic leaderboards. He is fourth in total games played. Second in Minutes played, Field goals, Field goal attempts, Free throws, Defensive rebounds, Assists and assists per game.

Westbrook is only 12 free throw makes away from passing Kevin Durant for the most makes in franchise history.

Westbrook for his career is averaging 22.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game.

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Thunder waives Alex Abrines

In a bit of surprising news, the Oklahoma City Thunder have made the tough, but mutual decision to waive Alex Abrines prior to tonight’s game against Houston.

According to Royce Young of ESPN, both parties agreed to part ways as Abrines has dealt with a personal issue for some time.

Shams Charania of the Athletic was the first to report.

“Even though he’s not gonna be a part of our team anymore, we’re all still here,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s still part of the family, and we’ll do anything we can to try to help him going forward.”

Early on, Abrines missed time due to an injury, many different reports on what the said illness was. There has been zero clarification from either side, so everything is just speculation. Since then, Abrines has been taking personal time to attend to matters that have remained unknown. Abrines has missed 19 of the last 22 games.

Abrines, 25, returned to the line up against Orlando and Miami but did not appear against Boston. Abrines scored three points, while going 1-of-3 from deep in his 15 minutes of combined action. Abrines was inactive against Memphis on Thursday night.

Abrines appeared in 31 games for Oklahoma City, averaging 5.3 points 1.5 rebounds per game. He shot 32.3 percent from 3-point range, which is a career low.

Abrines appeared to be a missing piece when drafted in 2013 at the age of 19. He finished time in Spain but never really developed into a consistency guy Oklahoma City would have liked, despite the constant position to be that guy.

Abrines finished his Thunder career with average of 5.3 points and 1.4 rebounds per game, and a 36.8 3-point field goal percentage in 174 regular-season appearances.

The Thunder now have 11 active bodies for tonight’s game against Houston. Deonte Burton did make the trip to Houston. Oklahoma City and Houston tip-off at 7:30 p.m. on ABC.

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Paul George named All-Star Starter

Though it took some time, Paul George has been named a Western Conference All-Star starter. George finished third in the front court voting, booking him into the final starting position in the Western Conference.

In 46 games this season, George is leading the Thunder in scoring while averaging career-highs in points (27.0), rebounds (7.9), steals (2.33) and made threes (3.4). He currently ranks eighth in the NBA in scoring, second in steals and first in points off turnovers (5.0). He leads the league in loose balls recovered (2.3) while ranking second in deflections (3.8).

George’s All-Star selection is his seventh overall, second in the Western Conference. It’s the third time he’s been picked to be a starter, first in the West.

George has been the front runner for the Defensive Player of the Year and has been in the discussion for Most Valuable Player all season as well. George is one of five players in the NBA this season to hit a pair of game-winning field goals. On Dec. 5 in Brooklyn, George scored a team-record 25 fourth-quarter points, including the game-winning three in the final seconds to help lead Oklahoma City to their largest comeback victory in club history. Additionally, George completed a four-point play in the final moments of the Thunder’s 117-115 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers this past Saturday.

The 2019 NBA All-Star Game will follow last year’s format whereby LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will draft rosters from a pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference, making their picks regardless of conference affiliation.
Fan voting accounted for 50 percent of the overall vote while NBA players and a media panel each accounted for 25 percent of the vote. Among frontcourt players, George received the third-most fan votes (3,122,346) in the Western Conference.
TNT will announce the reserves, selected by NBA head coaches, on Thursday Jan. 31 during NBA Tip-Off.
The 68th NBA All-Star Game will take place at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. CT. TNT will televise the NBA All-Star Game for a 17th consecutive year.
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Nerlens Noel is in Concussion Protocol

After Tuesday’s terrible accident, the Thunder have released a statement, Nerlens Noel is current in NBA’s Concussion Protocol.

Noel took an elbow to the head and then hit his head on the floor in The third quarter of Oklahoma City’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Noel would leave on a stretcher and was conscious hen he left the arena.

Per the NBA’s Concussion Policy, Noel will now begin the NBA-mandated Return-to-Participation Protocol. This process includes a series of steps designed to ensure an athlete exhibits symptom-free behavior before resuming basketball activities. There is no predetermined timetable to complete the protocol, as each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.

Its obvious the elbow wasn’t intentional from Andre Wiggins. Players have stated they don’t think Wiggins did anything intentionally. However, Dennis Schröder took exception to some T-Wolves players laughing and carrying on while Noel was being attended to. Jeff Teague and Schröder were later involved in an altercation, leading to the ejection of Teague on double technical fouls.

It’s unknown when Noel will be back. All of Thunder Nation continues to keep him in our thoughts as he recover.

In 39 games (one start) this season, Noel is averaging 5.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.44 blocks in 13.7 minutes.

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Thunder picks up Billy Donovan contract option

With the Thunder sitting with the sixth best record in basketball, the Oklahoma City Thunder have picked up the 2019-20 contract option on head coach Billy Donovan.

Donovan is four years into his first contract with the Thunder worth $30 million. They picked up the fifth year on his original deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Donovan is 168-106 as the head coach of the Thunder. He’s been to the Western Conference Finals once and has a 14-15 playoff record. Donovan is the fourth winningest coach with same team over his four years, behind Kerr, Popovich and Stevens.

Thunder fans been short fused with the former Florida Gator head coach as the team started 0-4. However, the Thunder have reeled off one of the better records since, going 18-6 since their rough start. However, there are still folks who would want to see a coaching change.

Donovan was hired in May of 2015 after the Thunder missed the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. Scott Brooks was let go and Donovan was hired from Florida. Donovan’s hire was questioned by many as he appears at times to be a clone of Scott Brooks. Donovan, 53, has his differences. His ability to adjust at key moments are why the Thunder the best third quarter team in the NBA. It’s fueling their large record since their bad star.

The timing didn’t help the Thunder following, in Kevin Durant’s last season, and Durant’s appeasement of Brooks as a coach, stoked fire to one of the reasons why Durant bailed for Golden State.

Though the Thunder are loyal to a fault. As Brooks should’ve been let go a season before when the Thunder didn’t meet expectations with the best record in basketball. However, they’ll give Donovan his full contract’s worth. With the Thunder in the upper half of the NBA’s echelon, will Donovan get Oklahoma City to those vital wins? That remains to be seen but the Thunder have faith he can do it.

Donovan coached at the University of Florida for 20 seasons, winning two national championships and had multiple Final Four appearances.

The Thunder play the Chicago Bulls tonight at 7 p.m. and with the new contract, maybe we’ll see a reinvigorated Donovan under suit and tie.

 

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Hamidou Diallo injured, cleared of serious lower leg injury

Hamidou Diallo went down awkwardly with 7:17 left in the fourth quarter in Oklahoma City’s 123-95 win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. He was carted off on a stretcher and Thunder nation collectively held their breath.

Diallo is going to be re-evaluated back in Oklahoma City on Thursday. No official injury statement has been announced by the Thunder. However, according to a Thunder spokesperson, Diallo has been cleared of any serious lower leg injury. This means no torn ligaments, broken bones or separations. Given with how bad the injury looked, this is one of the best news we could’ve received.

According to Shams Charania of the Athletic, Diallo has an ankle sprain.

When he left, Diallo had three points on 1-of-6 shooting and six rebounds in 16 minutes of action.

Diallo, the 45th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft has become a real bright spot off the bench for the Thunder. He’s even stepped up in place of the missing Terrance Ferguson this season in the starting lineup.

In 16 games, Diallo has averaged 6.3 points in 14.6 minutes this season. He’s shooting 47 percent from the field.

Diallo’s injury was the third to happen to Oklahoma City in the Warrior’s game. Terrance Ferguson rolled his ankle in the first half. Then, Nerlens Noel in his first game back from illness, had to pick up five stitches after being hit in the face. He was able to return to the game.

We’ll do our best to give you the quickest updates when they come out.

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Westbrook out Wednesday at Cleveland

The Oklahoma City Thunder will need to win some basketball games without their best player. Russell Westbrook is out Wednesday night in Cleveland against the Cavaliers due to a right ankle sprain.

Westbrook rolled his ankle with 4:30 left in the third quarter. Oklahoma City went on to beat the Pelicans and win their fifth straight game but held on without Westbrook.

ESPN’s Royce Young thinks it’s going to be Monday against Phoenix, or maybe as early as Saturday against the Mavericks.

Oklahoma City is already 0-2 without Westbrook this season. They almost beat the Warriors but faltered late against the Clippers.

Dennis Schröder will start in place of Westbrook, as he did the first two games of the season without Westbrook. He averaged 14.5 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds in two starts against Golden State and the Clippers.

This season, Westbrook is averaging 24.1 points, 8.9 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game while shooting 48.9 percent from the floor through seven appearances this season.

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Thunder trade Carmelo Anthony to Hawks

There were some some rumblings yesterday but today it hit. The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded Carmelo Anthony to the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team traded that’s a bit wild but we’ll break it down for you.

Anthony had reportedly waived his no-trade clause so the Thunder could trade him, saving over $100M in luxury tax. There had been talks with a handful of teams. The Atlanta stuff came down yesterday. Atlanta’s main point was offloading Dennis Schroder. They want Trae Young to be their No. 1 guy.

So, Oklahoma City is sending Carmelo Anthony and all of his $27.9 million to Atlanta for Dennis Schroder and a lottery protected 2022 first round pick. Also, Atlanta is sending Mike Muscala to Philadelphis and the 76ers are sending Timothe Luwawu-Caborrot to the Thunder.

First and foremost, the Thunder will save a ton of money. Through all of the weeds, Oklahoma City is saving $62 million in luxuty tax alone. Their salary cap drops considerably. From $160 million to $148.7 million.

Secondly, the Thunder get a bench scoring guard they’ve desperately wanted since Reggie Jackson leaving. Victor Oladipo was going to be that guy but KD did his thing. So, he was forced to start. They like having the defensive two-guard who can start and use someone’s scoring ability off the bench to counter the bench inefficiencies.

Schroder will make $15.5 million over the next three seasons but there’s a huge upside with him. He’s been the main focal point on an offense the last two seasons and that often will see his numbers dip and they have. Schroder averaged 19.4 points and 6.2 assists per game on 43.6 percent shooting, including 29 percent from three last season. He also was the focal point of the offense last season. Compared to the higher efficiency the previous seasons.

Atlanta had just traded for Jeremy Lin and to keep quality point guards of in threes is rare and quite inefficient. Especially when all three are particularly big in ball dominance. There had been leaks since the acquisition of Jeremy Lin the Hawks were interested in shipping Schroder because of his contract out of Atlanta.

For Timothe Luwawu-Caborrot, aka TLC, averaged only 5.8 points per game. He’s a lanky wing who has a high potential. He’s like a shorter Jerami Grant. His per 36 numbers, if you want to stretch them out to projections, are 13.3 points per game and shooting almost 34 percent from three. His not an overly good defender his first two years in the NBA.

I don’t think Oklahoma City is going to waive either player. Schroder is tied in for the next three seasons. That would mean stretching $6.6 million for seven years. SEVEN. Luwawu is making $1.54 million this season and has a team option for next season the team can decline. So, he’s not going anywhere.

The Melo-Thunder saga is over. Both tried but it unfortunately never worked when Andre Roberson went down with an injury. Onto the next one as the Thunder are not holding back in trying to build a championship during Russell Westbrook’s prime.

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